My mate “Psycho” is enormous, probably the strongest bloke I’ve ever met, used to be a tree-lopper and has arms and shoulders like Dean Lukin. And I mean the scruffy, tuna-fishing, weight-lifting version of Dean Lukin, not the post-Olympics slimmed-down, neat, corporate one.
I’m a fairly… hefty bloke myself. One night in the early 90s, we were saying goodbye to each other at the door to a Hornswood pub. It was only about ten thirty, but we’d been there since midday. It was time to go.
Psycho – “GO THE SEA EAGLES! See you, Jase.”
All of a sudden three cocky, young, preppy sort of guys came wandering up the street. We couldn’t help but hear them coming as they were being so loud, leaning all over each other, looking very pretty in their expensive clothes, with perfect hair and really nice shiny shoes.
One of them yelled at the top of his voice as they approached – THREE SEXY, PRIVATE SCHOOL BOYS COMING IN. MAKE AN ORDERLY QUEUE INSIDE, BITCHES.
Wankers. Obviously not one of us Shore boys!
The taller one boomed – FUTURE CAPTAINS-OF-INDUSTRY, BITCHES.
I cannot stand that silver-spoon type, disrespecting young women and showing off about the privileged upbringing they’ve had (through no success of their own).
Psycho can’t either. They stopped in front of us.
Blonde Guy to Psycho (with a smart-arse tone in his voice) – “I assume it’s ok for us to go inside your fine establishment, my good man?”
They thought we were bouncers!
Without skipping a beat, Psycho dropped into a brilliant, insanely-tough-Pommy-door-man accent. He sounded like one of the Peaky Blinders.
Psycho – “Nobody calls me a ‘good’ man no more. Not wiv what I’ve done, an’ the Guvna, ‘angin’ over me focken ‘ead. Proof of age, boys.”
They all quickly produced their driver’s licenses. I smiled to myself.
Psycho (moving his gaze slowly from on to the next) – “Ya not goin’ ta be causin’ no trouble tonight? I’d get real angry if ya did. And ya wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
Excellent, Psycho had started quoting David Banner (a.k.a. the Hulk), in a Birmingham voice.
Blonde Guy (with a bit less smart-arse tone after the Hulk quote) – “Don’t worry about that, my good man.”
Psycho (looking closely at their licenses) – “I used ta be a good man… ‘til prison.” He looked away, paused longingly, as if remembering. “But now wiv me mate ‘Cool Hand’ ‘ere, we’s two of the ‘ardest damn bouncers in the city.”
“Cool Hand” is my self-ascribed poker callsign. As if rehearsed, without hesitation we executed the perfect high-five.
I tried to hide the smile that started to creep across my face. Men in our line of work, don’t smile often and this was my first time being… “Bouncer Cool Hand.”
Psycho (dead-pan) – “We’s been seein’ a shite-load of snobby private school students wiv fake id’s from the Ukraine recently lads. Ya wouldn’t knows nothin’ ’bout that now… would ya?” He eyeballed them all.
Tall guy – “We’re… we’re all over eighteen.”
Me (having become “Bouncer Cool Hand”) – “WE’LL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT.”
The three “BITCH”-yelling snobs seemed taken aback by this monstrous “Psycho” bloke, being apparently unimpressed with them.
Psycho (putting one license between his teeth and biting down, testing it like a gold piece) – “Looks legit ‘nough ta me, Cool Hand.” Pointing at the blonde guy. “Michael, ya star-sign an’ dog’s name. Quick now, son!”
Blonde guy (hurriedly) – “Gemini. Tim-Tam.”
Bouncer Cool Hand – “He’s right on the star-sign part,” (I had no idea if he was) “but I’m just not convinced about the Tim-Tam bit.”
Psycho (to Blonde Guy) – “Tim-Tam? Serious?” He was absolutely nailing the Brummie accent.
Blonde guy (embarrassed) – “It’s my sister’s favourite biscuit…”
Psycho and I just shook our heads to each other.
Psycho – “For fock’s sake, Michael this don’t even look like ya! The guy in this photo’s a lot skinnier an’ he’s wearin’ glasses. What ya tryin’ ta pull?”
Michael – “I have contacts now.“
Bouncer Cool Hand – “WE DON’T CARE WHO YOU KNOW.” This was great.
Psycho (despite Michael looking exactly the same weight as he did in his photo) – “Michael, why have you put on so much weight?” Uh oh, Psycho had forgotten the pommy accent!
Michael – “Oh… well… I didn’t realise I had… I guess I stopped going to the gym and I just…”
Psycho (remembering his accent again) – “Likely story.”
Moving on to Tall Guy.
Psycho – “Phil, in this photo y’ave a blue shirt wiv some wanky logo. Now, ya’re wearin’ a green one and I can’t see no logo at all. Care ta explain?”
The situation was hilariously ridiculous.
Phil (sweating) – “I have… different shirts…”
Psycho – “Yeah, I ‘eard how well-ta-do ya’ll are. I’m keepin’ me eye on ya… green-shirt boy.”
At this stage I had to walk away a little and turn my back. I was a risk of a emitting a loud, decidedly non-bouncer-like laugh.
Psycho – “DOES YA MA LIKE MEERKATS, ‘ARRY?”
Harry – “What difference does-“
Psycho (interjecting) – “IT’S THE ONLY PUB FOR MILES ‘ARRY. WANNA COME IN OR NO?”
Harry (hesitating while he thought for a second) – “Um… I think she likes them.”
Psycho – “Why the ‘esitation ‘Arry? Ya not close?”
Harry – “Oh, I just wasn’t expecting that question.”
Psycho (staring daggers at him) – “‘Arry… always expect.”
Harry – “Ok… thanks.”
Psycho – “Now ‘Arry, ya’ve a scraggly focken “moustache” (Psycho made air-quotes) in this photo, an’ now you’ve none. How d’ya explain that?”
Harry just stared blankly.
Bouncer Cool Hand – “Why were you so desperate to change your appearance.”
Harry answered – “It was really itchy.”
Psycho (now with an excellent Clint Eastwood voice) – “I guess we’ll just have to take your word on that…won’t… we?”
Bouncer Cool Hand – “Psycho, I’m not overly comfortable with any of these guys, especially Mr Disappearing-‘Moustache’ here (I copied Psycho’s air-quotes).”
I was laughing now, but they were all too focused on answering Psycho correctly. Now they had heard his nickname, I don’t think they noticed his Peaky Blinders accent had given way to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”.
Psycho – “Any of you ever been convicted of Truancy? Homework copying? Or do you know anybody who has? Well do you… punk?”
They all shook their heads. Somehow Psycho managed to keep a straight bouncer-face.
Then four blokes who looked the same age as the three we were investigating, stood and waited their turn to be vetted by us.
Bouncer Cool Hand (happy as Larry with the new young arrivals) – “You can go straight in boys.”
Harry – “How come they were allowed in?”
Bouncer Cool Hand – “DON’T GET LIPPY WITH ME HARRY. It’s because they formed an orderly queue.”
Psycho – “One thing we won’t abide here punks, is any married men being unfaithful. Are any of you married? A man’s gotta know his limitations!”
They responded with a chorus of “No’s”.
Bouncer Cool Hand – “You don’t mind us checking do you? Ring fingers please gentlemen.”
They all showed their ring-fingers while we checked for not only wedding rings, but ring tan-marks. You can’t be too careful.
Then, the actual bouncer came out of the bar! He was angry.
Actual bouncer – “WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?”
Psycho, who was big enough to get away with it, in a super-friendly way put his arm on the bouncer’s shoulder and led him back inside the door to chat privately. They spoke for quite a while so I knew Psycho was trying to convince the real bouncer, to carry on the gag. They occasionally glanced back at the increasingly nervous boys.
Actual bouncer and Psycho wandered back.
Bouncer Cool Hand – “Howdy, Iron Kev.” I took a stab at his name. I really hoped Psycho had got him in on the joke.
Bouncer Cool Hand – “Here’s a quick rundown Kev, because Psycho and I are both at the end of a long shift. Michael here (I pointed him out), has put on a heap of weight, apparently used to wear glasses, now miraculously doesn’t need them and should be let in due to the people he knows in this place.“
“Iron Kev” threw up his hands with a mocking look of being impressed by Michael (who appeared mortified by my summary).
Bouncer Cool Hand – “Young Phil here, was showing off about how vast his impressive wardrobe is. Harry, has next to no relationship with his mother, has no idea of her stance on meerkats and his ‘moustache’ (air quotes again) is suspiciously transitory.”
“Iron Kev” (smiling and nodding) – “Transitory – nice word Cool Hand. How could he not know his mum’s meerkat-stance? Ok, I understand your concerns fellas. I’ll see you tomorrow Cool Hand, Psycho.” We shook hands in a manly, bro-bouncer way.
“Iron Kev” (turning to the young lads) – “OK YOU PRIVATE SCHOOL POSERS. FORM AN ORDERLY QUEUE. I HOPE YOU KNOW YOUR EXACT HEIGHT BECAUSE I’LL BE CHECKING, MOTHER’S EYE COLOUR (I won’t be expecting you to know that one Harry) AND MODEL OF YOUR DAD’S FIRST RIDE.”
Iron Kev (to Psycho and I) – “Carry on gents. You’ve done some good work here.”
Our “shift” done, Psycho and I left.
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